Saturday, September 13, 2008

Questions the View should have asked McCain

It is a sign of how upside down our society is that the View, of all places, was the first to challenge McCain head-on about the lying, dishonest nature his campaign has assumed since Sarah Palin was nominated.

As well as the View gals did (and having Barbara Walters there certainly didn't hurt), there were a few moments that McCain left his chin hanging out there where they didn't pop him like they could have.

Whoopi attempted to get at the issue of Sarah Palin's mingling of religion and government by asking McCain if he believed in separation of church and state. However, she wasn't specific enough, and it allowed McCain to ramble on about the religiosity of past presidents without answering the question. She should have stuck with "Would you govern as God would have you do it, or would you govern this nation for the greater good of the people in it?". His answer was basically "I pray to do the best for the people", which doesn't get at the choice every politician who is religious has to make, and it should have been asked like this:

"If your understanding of your religious views mandated that you do X, but in your judgement doing X would NOT be in the interests of the general welfare of the people of this nation, would you do X?"

As a followup, they should have asked this:

"If your understanding of the Bible's message was that X is wrong, but the constitution said X should be allowed, would you allow X, or would you support laws to outlaw it?"

Whoever has the balls to ask these questions should NOT allow the dodge of claiming there couldn't be such a conflict. Any politician truly on board with separation of church and state should have no problem saying that they would, in their role as president, support the constitution over any religious text, the general welfare of the nation over any religious edicts, regardless of what those priorities might be in their private lives.

On the topic of Roe vs Wade, McCain, to his credit, was up front about his belief that it was a bad ruling. On the subject of appointing judges, he said he wanted judges that strictly interpret the Constitution, but would have no litmus test re Roe v Wade. So, the question they should have asked was:

"Do you think it is possible for a strict constructionist judge to conclude that Roe vs Wade is solid law, and if so, would you appoint such a judge?"

The claim that there is no litmus test with his judicial appointments re Roe vs Wade is hollow if by "strict contructionist" he means "those that would conclude Roe v. Wade is bad law". Walters made a quip about this, but should have pursued it further.

It was also interesting to note that McCain said he respects people's views who disagree with him on abortion, which I take to mean he won't argue nastily with them or think ill of them. Yet he supports it being made illegal. So apparently it shows people more respect to make what they do illegal, with the resultant enforcement of legal penalties, than it does to argue with them about the rightness of it or think poorly of it. There is no greater example of the feelings-over-reality mindset of Republican party today.

The only straight answer McCain gave was on the one area he could claim expertise: the politics of being a prisoner of war. He was asked why his jailers didn't just force him to leave rather than giving him a choice. It would have been interesting to see some of the hostesses ask him about the psychological damage being tortured as a prisoner for so long.

When Cindy McCain said that a McCain administration would include all different sorts of people, I couldn't help thinking of the bartender in the Blues Brothers movie who answered the question of what sort of music they played there with "We got both kinds. We got country, and Western". Someone should have asked her if pro-choice, anti-Iraq war people would be included.

In total, McCain's performance had to be viewed negatively. He was taken to task by (with the exception of Walters) a bunch of amateur interviewers. One can only imagine what would happen to him were he subjected to such a Q & A by serious reporters determined to get to the essentials of the issues. Any takers?

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